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Maroochydore mosque deserves same rights as church: priest

Maroochydore's Stella Maris Catholic Church priest Father Joe Duffy says the Maroochydore mosque next door deserves a fair go.
Maroochydore's Stella Maris Catholic Church priest Father Joe Duffy says the Maroochydore mosque next door deserves a fair go. Kristy Muir

MAROOCHYDORE Catholic priest Joe Duffy has backed the Muslim community's appeal to the Planning and Environment Court to remove restrictive hours of worship and visitor numbers.

The Muslim Organisation of the Sunshine Coast (MoSC) has been restricted by Sunshine Coast Council to 25 people for weekly worship services that can only be held from noon to 3pm on Fridays. The approval allows an attendance of 40 twice-yearly for holiday and festival services with no amplification of music or sound.

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Father Duffy said the region's Muslims were entitled to the same level of access to their CBD premises as the Catholics next door, the Anglican church across the road, and the Shell service station being built opposite on the Church St corner.

He said groups from any one of the district's high schools undertaking a "Study of Religion" unit would visit two churches and a mosque, bringing about 40 on a bus. Under the existing approval they would not be able to visit the mosque.

Father Duffy said it was obvious the mosque community would grow over time.

Does a mosque have a place at Maroochydore?

This poll ended on 30 September 2015.

Current Results

Yes, other churches are nearby so what's the big deal.

72%

Yes, as long as it fits council criteria

3%

No, it should be somewhere else on the Coast.

2%

No, there should be no mosques anywhere on the Coast

21%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

His own church is about to begin a $30 million re-development in conjunction with Saint Vincent de Paul involving an aged care facility and a new church. Father Duffy said people should accept that over time Muslim migration to the region would rise significantly creating demand for a much larger mosque and a Muslim school.

He said the council should reverse what he described as "prescriptive restrictions on the Church St premises".

"I support the Muslims in their appeal against restricted hours of worship and limits being placed on the number of visitors accessing the mosque," Father Duffy said.

He said the driving forces behind the anti-mosque movement appeared to be bigotry, hatred and racism.

The mosque proposal was met with fierce protest by critiques including one protest where police were forced to step in to ease the hostility. 

Sunshine Coast Safe Communities president Ron Hutchins told the Sunshine Coast Daily last week that while the hours being sought may be the same as nearby churches, church usage was typically during daylight and early evening hours.

"Scheduled Islamic prayer times start every day before sunrise and finish well after sunset. This may mean attendance as early as 3.20am in summer," he said. "There is concern that the slamming of car doors and chanting may disturb residents in the adjacent, planned aged-care facility."

Father Duffy said car door slamming was as likely to come from the service station being built at the end of Church St.

The Muslim Organisation of the Sunshine Coast has declined to make comment while the matter is before the court.

Topics:  editors picks islam maroochydore mosque muslim priest


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